United Airlines announced yesterday that there will no longer be an expiration date on the miles you earn in your Mileage Plus account. For sure, this is not bad news. Certainly not like the news of United switching to dynamic award pricing. That has taken awards that used to be expensive and turned them into impossible. 141,000 miles one-way to Hawaii in a business class seat, anyone?
View From The Wing has a quote from Luc Bondar, who’s in charge of the United MileagePlus program:
According to Luc Bondar, United’s vice president of loyalty, “We want to demonstrate to our members that we are committing to them for the long-haul and giving customers a lifetime to use miles is an exceptionally meaningful benefit.”
No, this is not an exceptionally meaningful benefit. And, that’s not Luc’s fault, or United’s.
Actually, one of my all-time favorite airline executives said it best. That was Maya Leibman, back when she ran the American Airlines. It was at a travel summit run by Randy Petersen. I’m guessing it was 2013. Delta had just changed their policy to eliminate the expiration of miles. Randy asked Maya if American Airlines had similar plans. Maya gave a pretty firm no, and explained why.
I’m paraphrasing her answer, but she said something along the lines of: We believe this is a loyalty program, and that’s a two-way street, a relationship. If you don’t interact with us for 18 months, don’t fly on our airplanes, redeem your miles, spend on one of our credit cards or the other host of ways we have to earn and redeem miles, we don’t have much of a relationship, do we?
The Final Two Pennies
Your United miles no longer expire. That’s not a bad thing. But, if you don’t have any need for United Airlines over an 18-month period, you don’t have a meaningful relationship with them. Thus, the fact that your miles didn’t expire probably isn’t an exceptionally meaningful benefit, either.
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